London has more parkrun events than any other city worldwide and options to run with buggies and dogs so the whole family can enjoy it together. Over 50 parks and green spaces host parkruns on Saturdays in London, including Clapham Common, Greenwich, Highbury Fields, Finsbury Park, and Richmond Park.
But with so many options, how do you choose which one to run each week?
Bushy parkrun was where it all started in 2004 with just 13 friends and is now the biggest event with over 1,000 participants most weeks. Barking boasts a lake and a not-too-taxing path, with the final 200-metres through a tree-lined avenue, making it one of the most picturesque parkruns in London.
Old Deer Park parkrun in Richmond-upon-Thames typically receives a mere 85 runners and is an entirely grass event with some ‘gentle undulations’. Clapham Common parkrun is a two-lap run of the heath with many cafes nearby for your post-run coffee. Probably the closest parkrun to GP London in Harley Street is the Wormwood Scrubs event which is run in the shadow of the infamous prison and boasts a challenging route run entirely on grass.
But don’t worry if parkrun doesn’t sound like your idea of fun. “People work out in different ways. Part of what we do as GPs is find out what they enjoy doing and encourage them to make it part of their routine,” explains Dr Fiona Payne. “Personally, I don’t do parkrun, as I’m a long-distance runner and the first 5km is the bit I hate! I like running on my own at 6am in the morning when no one is around and it’s only when I do an event that I’m running with people.”
Dr Payne is doing the Royal Parks Half Marathon this October. Starting and finishing in Hyde Park, it travels through four of London’s Royal Parks – Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.